How Low Should Your Cholesterol Levels Be?

Ide­al­ly, your total cho­les­terol should be below 150 mg/dL. Accord­ing to William Castel­li, who was the med­ical direc­tor of the Fram­ing­ham Heart Study for many years, peo­ple with a total cho­les­terol val­ue of less than 150 mg/dL sim­ply don’t get heart attacks. And once someone’s total cho­les­terol is that low, the ratio between the “good” and “bad” cho­les­terol sim­ply doesn’t mat­ter.

The total cho­les­terol val­ue is the sin­gle most impor­tant clue to a person’s risk of heart attack. Once the cho­les­terol lev­els in the blood rise to, say, the mid-160s, then the ratio of good ver­sus bad cho­les­terol (HDL ver­sus LDL) real­ly starts to mat­ter.

William Castel­li once explained, “Four out of five peo­ple on this earth can’t get their cho­les­terol over 150; they don’t get heart attacks. One out of five peo­ple can’t get their cho­les­terol down to 150. They do get heart attacks. And almost all of them live in afflu­ent coun­tries.” The “four out of five peo­ple” Castel­li meant live in soci­eties that eat a low-fat, high-fiber, large­ly plant-based diet. That kind of diet keeps blood cho­les­terol lev­els nat­u­ral­ly low.

One thought on “How Low Should Your Cholesterol Levels Be?”

  1. Oh, one oth­er impor­tant point. You have to be very care­ful about inter­pret­ing the death rates in pop­u­la­tion stud­ies. Healthy diet is not the only cause of low cho­les­terol lev­els. The more com­mon cause is liv­er fail­ure, which is often due to can­cer or alco­holism. So it stands to rea­son that you’d find high death rates among the peo­ple with the low­est cho­les­terol lev­els. That doesn’t mean that high cho­les­terol lev­els are good for you.

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